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Island Park residents wary over new development's possible flooding

Island Park developer John Vitale has proposed to

Island Park developer John Vitale has proposed to build 85 luxury rental apartments at the site of the former Paddy McGee's and Coyote Grill -- storm-damaged restaurants along a stretch of Barnum Island. Credit: H2M Architects and Engineers.

The Island Park developer of a proposed 85-unit waterfront apartment complex in the hamlet of Barnum Island says it will provide an economic jolt to an area still feeling the devastating effects of superstorm Sandy.

But some Island Park residents worry the development, which would be built on pilings raised 2 or 3 feet on the site of the former Paddy McGee's and Coyote Grill restaurants, could make their homes prone to the type of flooding that destroyed the eateries in 2012.

Residents wary of the project, and supporters, were in the audience Wednesday night at the Island Park Chamber of Commerce when developer John Vitale offered a look at his plans.

Waterview Land Development LLC is seeking Town of Hempstead Board approval to change the 2 1/2-acre site's zone designation from industrial to transit-oriented housing. The change would make way for the estimated $18 million gated community of two three-floor apartment buildings, composed of 85 one- and two-bedroom units.

"We need investment and I am hoping that the process would be speeded up for us because -- hello -- it's Island Park," Vitale said. "We need stuff. We need to get stuff built."

About 40 people attended the meeting, including residents of the adjacent Yacht Club Condominium complex. Several of the residents said they wanted reassurance from Vitale that their condominiums would not be flooded in a storm or tidal event. Vitale said he will add more drainage to protect against flooding. He is planning a meeting with the condo board and homeowners to discuss the project.

The development, on Waterview Road and Pettit Place, would be geared toward young people and "empty nesters," Vitale said. Rents would range from $1,800 to $2,800. The complex would have a pool, elevators and boat slips, and provide 148 parking spaces, some of which are ground-floor parking, and a shuttle to the Long Beach boardwalk, Vitale said.

Vitale said his project is different from the 172-unit residential complex project in Harbor Isle that was rejected by the town board in November. His project wouldn't cause traffic problems and would be located in an industrial zone, unlike the other project, which was in a single-family zone. Vitale said reopening the storm-damaged restaurants would not be economically viable, but he has permits to reopen them if the development project fails.

"If I am successful in this project, I think you will see a change," Vitale said. "You will have people take notice of Island Park. They will see that we are coming back and reinventing ourselves."

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